DAYS CREEK, Ore. – As firefighting activity remains high, officials on the Whiskey Complex are urging crews to watch out for school kids.
Schools like Days Creek Charter School were just a short distance from where the fires were burning at their peak. Now they’re not-so-conveniently located in the middle of fire traffic. Trucks drive right past the main entrance of the school in order to fuel up, and then go right back the way they came to get back into the firefight.
Officials at the school say it’s something many of the kids simply grew up with.
“A lot of our families have either sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, cousins, or uncles involved in the fire,” said school principal Mindy Porter.
This summer, Porter watched as helicopters flew overhead.
Now as school begins, it’s the road traffic. That, and water shortages from local sources being used for the firefight.
“There’s even difficulty getting laundry done,” said Porter. “We ran out of water, that’s why it’s so dry right now.”
For the most part, it’s just part of life every few years.
But fire officials say they’re very sensitive to safety issues, especially those on the road.
“That’s the main concern with everything that we do, whether it be the fire line or driving through a town,” said information officer Kathryn Price.
Now that school starts, fire officials are putting extra emphasis on driving safe.
They’re also tweaking their re-fueling schedules to avoid risk altogether.
“A lot of times the folks will just wait and get fuel in the evening,” said Price. “They’ll try to manipulate the time of day they’re actually out on the road.”
School officials say the effort isn’t lost on them. In fact, they hope the students learn a few things. In a few years, Days Creek could have firefighter as one of their technical career programs.
“That’s a great job to have here,” said Porter. “Dangerous, but in very high regard by the community and important.”